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Improving ride quality and handling via lowering? '03 B3000, Std Cab+Short Bed.


lil_Blue_Ford

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I'll probably stick with the 01-03 grill and a 06-11 bumper. Having trouble piecing the latter together too. Can;t find a good one in the salvage yards, and can't get a clear picture/list of all the parts needed to piece together a new one.
So, I dunno how much interest it would be to you, but I’m seriously considering making my own front bumper. Going to template something that will match the 01 front on my 00, make it kinda stock appearing but no plastic lower, the whole thing will be built out of 1/8” plate most likely
 


bhgl

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So we've got no rear sway bar on the truck currently, I'm hoping to grab the front and rear sway bar from that 04 Sport Trac, as long as they would fit.

Specifically for the rear, do you guys know if I should grab some of the mounting equipment? Seems like some guys have been able to retrofit new bars onto their frame by drilling a couple holes, while some folks state that they've already got holes pre-drilled.

I won't know what axle is on that Explorer Sport Trac until I'm able to go to the yard in person, it's most likely going to be an 8.8 so the shackles that are typically used wouldn't fit my 7.5's I assume.

For the rear sway bar, am I better off just finding a new retail kit? I don't want to shell out big bucks here, but I've only got a couple hours at the yard and I'd rather not waste too much time going after parts that won't work.

EDIT:

Looks like I sort of got my answer here:


Looks like rear sway bars from explorers just simply don't work with the 7.5 short of some fabrication work.

I'm probably better off just trying to find a rear sway bar from a ranger. Any sway bar is better than no sway bar.
 
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Lefty

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So we've got no rear sway bar on the truck currently, I'm hoping to grab the front and rear sway bar from that 04 Sport Trac, as long as they would fit.

Specifically for the rear, do you guys know if I should grab some of the mounting equipment? Seems like some guys have been able to retrofit new bars onto their frame by drilling a couple holes, while some folks state that they've already got holes pre-drilled.

I won't know what axle is on that Explorer Sport Trac until I'm able to go to the yard in person, it's most likely going to be an 8.8 so the shackles that are typically used wouldn't fit my 7.5's I assume.

For the rear sway bar, am I better off just finding a new retail kit? I don't want to shell out big bucks here, but I've only got a couple hours at the yard and I'd rather not waste too much time going after parts that won't work.

EDIT:

Looks like I sort of got my answer here:


Looks like rear sway bars from explorers just simply don't work with the 7.5 short of some fabrication work.

I'm probably better off just trying to find a rear sway bar from a ranger. Any sway bar is better than no sway bar.
After you install a Ranger sway bar, add those leaf spring clamps to reduce the remaining sway. It's an old race car trick and it works well. It's only $20,00. It will do the same as a bigger sway bar ... and for much less
 

bhgl

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After you install a Ranger sway bar, add those leaf spring clamps to reduce the remaining sway. It's an old race car trick and it works well. It's only $20,00. It will do the same as a bigger sway bar ... and for much less
I definitely will, debating getting the James Duff Traction Bars as well.

Considering this thing spends a lot of time on rural highways at decent speeds, any improvement in overall handling is needed, despite the weight gained.

Is there any set in particular you recommend? Caveat always being, I'm in Canada, so generic is usually preferred to avoid long shipping times and overall cost.
 

Lefty

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I definitely will, debating getting the James Duff Traction Bars as well.

Considering this thing spends a lot of time on rural highways at decent speeds, any improvement in overall handling is needed, despite the weight gained.

Is there any set in particular you recommend? Caveat always being, I'm in Canada, so generic is usually preferred to avoid long shipping times and overall cost.
James Duff Traction Bars will not really help with overall handling. They do prevent axle wrap at launch. They do smooth out all the shifts a little. I like them. for these reasons.

How committed are you to a camper/topper? How often do you really need it? I know people love them, but that's a couple extra hundred pounds which raises your center of gravity and increases sway.. If there is some mileage gain, it may be cancelled out from hauling that much extra weight. I'm no expert, but I would certainly ask Google.
 

bhgl

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James Duff Traction Bars will not really help with overall handling. They do prevent axle wrap at launch. They do smooth out all the shifts a little. I like them. for these reasons.

How committed are you to a camper/topper? How often do you really need it? I know people love them, but that's a couple extra hundred pounds which raises your center of gravity and increases sway.. If there is some mileage gain, it may be cancelled out from hauling that much extra weight. I'm no expert, but I would certainly ask Google.
I don't think the Traction bars would help much with overall cornering, but I think they would help keep the rear axle planted when going over rough pavement, especially at speed.

The truck loves to hop laterally and it's pretty annoying.

As for the topper, I'm pretty sold on keeping it on, I use it pretty much every other day for transporting my reactive dog, who'd otherwise jump out of a moving truck, plus just having lockable storage, or rain/snow proof storage is huge.

In my case it absolutely it's worth the weight. I would say this one is under 200lbs, but on the highway the amount it improves handling, and fuel economy is leagues ahead of where the truck was without it. It also puts some much need weight on the rear axle, yes it is high up, but in the winter in particular, that weight really does come in handy.

I'm not dealing with as much wind trouble, plus I gain about 1-1.5 MpG on the low end, for high speed long distance driving I see a 2mpg gain solid compared to without it.

If I was just doing stop and go, I'd consider it not a plus, but for me, it honestly makes the truck so much more usable.
 

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I don't think the Traction bars would help much with overall cornering, but I think they would help keep the rear axle planted when going over rough pavement, especially at speed.

The truck loves to hop laterally and it's pretty annoying.

As for the topper, I'm pretty sold on keeping it on, I use it pretty much every other day for transporting my reactive dog, who'd otherwise jump out of a moving truck, plus just having lockable storage, or rain/snow proof storage is huge.

In my case it absolutely it's worth the weight. I would say this one is under 200lbs, but on the highway the amount it improves handling, and fuel economy is leagues ahead of where the truck was without it. It also puts some much need weight on the rear axle, yes it is high up, but in the winter in particular, that weight really does come in handy.

I'm not dealing with as much wind trouble, plus I gain about 1-1.5 MpG on the low end, for high speed long distance driving I see a 2mpg gain solid compared to without it.

If I was just doing stop and go, I'd consider it not a plus, but for me, it honestly makes the truck so much more usable.
I'm sure you will enjoy those traction bars. They're not that expensive either.
 

stmitch

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Just FYI, the James Duff bars won't work (without modification) if you're still planning an axle flip to lower the rear. The brackets won't work:


For spring under axle setups, Caltracs would be the best off the shelf option:
 
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bhgl

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I'm sure you will enjoy those traction bars. They're not that expensive either.
Just FYI, the James Duff bars won't work (without modification) if you're still planning an axle flip to lower the rear. The brackets won't work:


For spring under axle setups, Caltracs would be the best off the shelf option:

I'm at a crossroads when it comes to lowering, first things first, the expense, no matter how I go about it I'm looking at spending 1000$ Canadian or more to use quality parts.

My main priority is handling and stability at speed, the truck being lower inherently helps with aero and thus fuel economy, but I don't want the lowering to totally compromise stability. I'd like to go with the James Duff setup since they have a classic bolt-on kit for 98+ rangers.

A DJM lowering kit would involve an axle flip, it would have the benefit of of quality front control arms with proper alignment and ball joint angles, but its EXPENSIVE.

A Belltech set of front coil, and rear leafs are cheaper, and less work but may reduce the life of my ball joints. It also costs less overall.

I could in theory piece together a kit with DJM front arms, and the belltech rear leafs for a 4F 3R drop, but that is still a 1K+ affair.
 

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There's nothing wrong with the standard/conventional/stock ride, especially if you get those sway bars and other suspension upgrades like the James Duff bar.. Your truck will stay level to the road even on tight turns. It will feel more "sporty" too. The handling will be as good or better than most pickups, even better than many conventional cars. These are relativity cheap modifications, and IMHO, the most bang for the buck. I'm sure you will notice the difference right away. Feel free to keep us posted. You are on the right track.
 

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i got a real good feel of the difference that b2 rear bar made yesterday. summer is almost here and we had our 40mph winds and hte ranger hardly had body roll. it used to get blown around pretty well before the swap and now it was fairly stable. if i had left the front explorer bar on, i probably would have been stable like a no wind day but the front bar is just to stiff for daily driving.
 

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i got a real good feel of the difference that b2 rear bar made yesterday. summer is almost here and we had our 40mph winds and hte ranger hardly had body roll. it used to get blown around pretty well before the swap and now it was fairly stable. if i had left the front explorer bar on, i probably would have been stable like a no wind day but the front bar is just to stiff for daily driving.
This is the sweet part of driving an old Ranger. We can customize and modify all we want! Junk parts are cheap. And the Ranger likes suspension upgrades.

It's been a couple years since I bought mine, but I noticed right away that the rear end tended to sway and "float."

I like the front Explorer bar...a lot. I suppose I'm different. I drove an MGB for for 17 years. I really liked the tight handling. My other car is now a Fiat 500, also nimble and tight.

Still some here have mentioned that the big sway bar is too harsh.
 

bhgl

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IMO, as a small car/FWD sports car guy, trucks always felt like driving a vintage wagon. As it stands I'm not super satisfied with how the truck handles, particularly with the axle hop/lateral shifting, and the ride isn't exactly what I'd call comfortable.

Obviously it's never going to match up to a unibody, coil sprung sedan. I don't think I'd mind a more stiff ride so long as it wasn't accompanied with super harsh vibrations and noticeable lateral movements in the vehicle.

This thing truly crashes over uneven pavement however, I've looked over the suspension components to make sure they were all in fact attached and sure enough some components are a bit worn, but otherwise all there.

I really need that stability at speed, lowering will help for sure, but keeping that rear axle planted, empty bed or not is just as, if not more important than lowering TBH. I'm sure having any sway bar AT ALL back there is going to be a night and day difference.
 

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IMO, as a small car/FWD sports car guy, trucks always felt like driving a vintage wagon. As it stands I'm not super satisfied with how the truck handles, particularly with the axle hop/lateral shifting, and the ride isn't exactly what I'd call comfortable.

Obviously it's never going to match up to a unibody, coil sprung sedan. I don't think I'd mind a more stiff ride so long as it wasn't accompanied with super harsh vibrations and noticeable lateral movements in the vehicle.

This thing truly crashes over uneven pavement however, I've looked over the suspension components to make sure they were all in fact attached and sure enough some components are a bit worn, but otherwise all there.

I really need that stability at speed, lowering will help for sure, but keeping that rear axle planted, empty bed or not is just as, if not more important than lowering TBH. I'm sure having any sway bar AT ALL back there is going to be a night and day difference.
well said.
 

stmitch

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Sideways hopping over bumps is inherent to solid axle, leaf spring suspensions. Assuming your suspension is currently healthy, that's not really going to change much unless you radically change something about the design (converting to a 4 link, IRS, etc).

A rear swaybar is a great upgrade to a reduce bodyroll and improve cornering feel/confidence, but it's not likely to do much at all to prevent hopping over bumps.

Lowering will drop your center of gravity, and improve handling. It will also give you the chance to get new shocks and a proper alignment at the same time, so you'll have confidence that some of the hardware/bushings/etc are new and not contributing to any of your issues.
Yes, this costs money, but it will likely have more of an impact on your enjoyment of the truck than the ignition stuff you just spent hundreds on (teasing).
 

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